THE THREEFOLD CALL TO MINISTRY
Guest post written by J David Stephens
Ministry may be understood in the idea of a threefold calling. Ministry is a faith calling, a community calling, and a love calling!
Ministry is a Faith Calling.
Faith is the epitome of ministry. Everything that has to do with God begins with faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”(Heb.11:6 NIV). We can do good works without faith, but John 6:29 tells us that God’s work is all accomplished in, of, and by faith. There is no substitute for faith—we must not minister without it!
Romans 14:23 says: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”(KJV).
In Romans 11:20, Paul explains how Israel lost their standing with God—not because they did not serve consistently or even with excellence, but because of their unbelief. Their confidence was not in God, but in their service to God. The keeping of the law had become duty-driven, a daily drudgery. They served because they feared that if they did not fulfill the 620 rules and regulations of their religion, they would not be accepted by God.
We serve our Heavenly Father in faith and do His will. In times of stress, we should remember that the very people we serve did not call us, and do not control us. Our submission is not because they demand it—our submission is because God has called us. He alone is the reason we serve, and nothing else. It is in faith we answer the call to minister. Paul’s admonition in Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatsoever do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Ministry is a Community calling.
Many believers do not understand the call to being in community. They understand salvation in Christ, but not serving in community. They filter the call to serve through their sense of personal autonomy(the idea that we are self-determined). Autonomy is very closely related to pride—using our ability, our personal ministry gifts, at our discretion. This sense of belonging only to oneself, being held as a kind of badge of honor, is not new. The idea of self-determination is as old as Lucifer himself, and the end result will always be the same(Isa.14:12-14).
Community is essential to ministry. We all have blind spots and it is easy for life to get out of perspective. We need the understanding and feedback of other Christians to help us stay focused and right-minded.
This is why the Church is so important—we must have the fellowship of our brothers and sisters. Christians are to be as iron sharpening iron(Prov.27:17)—the hand saying to the foot,“ I need you.” There is no substitute in our lives, and especially our ministries, for submitting ourselves to each other within the body of Christ, the Church.
When the body of Christ is together, it sets us up for spiritual multiplication! As we sing the same song, study and hear the same word, and join in a ministry project as one body, God is honored! This is formational as well as affirmational. It amplifies our calling as a body—an army—to go together into all the world.
Each of us are unique in our gifts and calling, but, each member renders a specific function in the body of Christ. All of us are important to the health and well-being of the one body.
God does not want us to become alienated or isolated. Each of us must be intentional about reaching out to ministers who tend to isolate themselves. Some ministers struggle with their sense of gifting and ability, with communicating, and sometimes aren’t comfortable ministering where they are placed. We must reach out to them.
Ministry is a Love Calling.
The only sustainable motivation for serving God is loving God. When believers fall “head-over-heels” in love with Jesus, they will become His disciples.
None of us have the capacity to love within ourselves. Any love we have flows from the love of God. We can never love in our own strength. Scripture explains where we gain the capacity to love God: “We love him, because he first loved us”(1John 4:19). Paul tells us in Romans 5:5,“Thelove of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
We must keep falling in love with Christ Jesus who loved us when we were lost and undone. May we always keep His love flowing fresh in our hearts by continuing in communion with Him and being filled with the Holy Ghost!
J David Stephens